Day 68 – Delaware Water Gap – Mohican Outdoor Center – 10.8 miles
It was chilly when I woke up this morning. I stayed warm in my sleeping bag and got up around 7. There was a bakery down the street that made breakfast sandwiches and pies and I went down with Stealth, Griz, and Spider to get something to eat. The bakery was pretty cool and they had a “hiker special” which was a slice of pie and a hotdog for $2.99. I ended up getting two bacon egg and cheeses, an apple cider donut, and a cup of coffee. After breakfast I walked down to the local outfitter and picked up a new pair of insoles for my new shoes. My mom mailed a pair to the Mohican Outdoor Center and I was happy that I only had 10 more miles to hike in my old pair. I definitely have used them for too long and I think it may be why my feet have been hurting so much. It was 11 by the time I got back on the trail, and just .3 miles in I passed the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border on a bridge over the Delaware River. I stopped to take a picture as cars and semi trucks sped passed me just 10 feet away. The trail followed the road for another half mile then took a right back into the woods. It was a great day to be out hiking and the trail was pretty smooth in the beginning. Within the first few miles I passed F Word, the General, and Gator. I stopped to talk with them for a minute or two then kept hiking. 6 miles in was a one of the coolest ponds I’ve seen so far on the trail. A bunch of hikers I met last night were there hanging out and some were swimming. I chilled with everyone for a little bit then hiked 4 more miles to get to the Mohican Outdoor Center (MOC) which is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. I decided to do a short day today, pick up my packages, then enjoy the day relaxing at the MOC. I got there around two and met a hiker named McNasty who was also staying there for the night. I checked in and got my new shoes and also a package from trail angels Lynn and Connie. I met both of them at Max Patch in North Carolina 1,000 miles ago and they have been a couple of my biggest supporters ever since! We’ve stayed in touch and they sent out a box full of some amazing stuff! It definitely put a huge smile on my face. The rest of the day consisted of eating and kayaking in the spring fed pond. Before I fell asleep I met a thru hiker named Imua from Hawaii. We talked and I found out he is out here hiking to raise awareness for a NGO in Thailand called Friends of Thai Daughters. The NGO uses education and safe shelter to keep young women out of the reach of human traffickers. I think what he’s doing is great and I get inspired by some of the different reasons people are out here. Check out Imua’s website at https://www.trekkingagainsttrafficking.com!
Day 69 – Mohican Outdoor Center – Brink Shelter – 14 miles
I tried to sleep in as late as I could, but ended up waking up around 6 and couldn’t fall back asleep haha. I took advantage of the showers and took one more because I’m not sure when my next one will be. Once all my things were packed I walked down to the main building so I could get some breakfast. I got a bacon, egg, and cheese with two huge pancakes and a cup of coffee. I ate pretty quickly and wanted to get on trail as soon as I could because there was supposed to be some heavy rain coming in the afternoon. The morning was really nice. Easy terrain on the trail and overcast skies with a breeze that kept me cool. I passed a few day hikers along the way, but pretty much was solo for the rest of the day. There was a shelter 14 miles away and another one 20 miles from the MOC so my plan was to get to the first one and make a game plan from there. As I was getting close to the shelter I saw Charlie and then a group of hikers that I met the other day, Rebel Yell, Mouse King, Stealth, and Scissors. We all talked for about 5 minutes then I made my way down to the shelter. It was around 4:30, which is still pretty early, but with rains coming around 6 or 7 I didn’t want to risk going another 6 miles and getting caught in a downpour. I got some water and then headed up to the shelter. My original plan was to sleep in the shelter so I wouldn’t have a wet tent, but the mosquitoes were so bad I ended up throwing up the tent. I met up with Imua again and we talked as we ate dinner. I also met another hiker named Sponge and a Mom and her two sons who were all thru hiking. The rain came around 6:30 and I was happy that I had already sent up my tent because it turned into a heavy downpour and hasn’t stopped for the rest of the night. I’ll have a wet, heavy tent to carry tomorrow, but I’m happy that I’m dry another night. Hopefully I don’t wake up with a puddle of water in my tent!
Day 70 – Brink Shelter – High Point Shelter – 19.6 miles
I woke up to the rain pounding on my tent. It was actually raining, but the wind was blowing water off the trees. We call it “tree pee” out here. It was around 7 and I didn’t feel rushed to get up and start moving, so I stayed in my sleeping bag for another half hour and finally started moving. I ate a pop tart as I put away my wet tent and did my best to keep everything dry from the wet environment. I got packed up quick, then hit the trail by 8:15. 3 miles in the trail came to a road crossing. There were some restaurants, but they were all closed so I couldn’t stop and get any food. I looked at my phone and saw there was a bagel place .7 miles away, but after making the trek down, it turns out that the bagel place has gone out of business and is no longer there. Damn. It was a bummer, but there was nothing I could do, but get back to the trail and keep moving! Back on trail, I hiked up a decent climb and at the top was a fire tower. Kamikaze, Rebel Yell, Stealth, and Alladin were all up at the top of the tower, so I dropped my bag and joined them for a little bit enjoying one of the best views of New Jersey. This state has surprised me with its beauty. It’s so green and for the most part is away from any development. Another few miles up I reached a pavilion and there were people doing trail magic! I ate three cheeseburgers and my fair share of fruit and chocolate! The sun also was in and out and I was able to completely dry my tent. It was great. More rain was in the forecast in the evening though, so I wanted to go another 8 miles to the shelter so I wouldn’t get caught in the rain. It was a really nice hike along an exposed ridge and the wind made it cool, reminding me off hiking up north in the Fall. I made it to the shelter around 7:30 just as it began raining. It was full, with Jean Pierre the German, Sponge, Train, and a day hiker already claiming a spot in the shelter. Luckily there was a spot for me, so I rolled out my sleeping pad and bag and cooked dinner. I’m happy I didn’t have to tent tonight because it’s raining so hard and whoever has tented will probably be flooded out. The rain is supposed to stick around for the next week so hopefully I can keep all my gear as dry as possible!
Day 71 – High Point Shelter – Wawayanda Shelter – 23.9 miles
My sleeping bag is so warm that usually I just sleep on top of it. I did that last night, but this morning all my exposed body parts were getting eaten by the mosquitoes. I woke up early, around 6:30, and got out of there as fast as I could. By 7 I was on my way and the rain was relentless. It poured for the first 2 hours and I got soaked. Eventually it turned into drizzle, but by that time everything was already damp. 7 miles in I got to a road crossing and .4 miles west was a town called Unionville. I decided to walk the short distance into town and stop at the convenient store so I could get some hot coffee and something to eat. There were about 4 hikers there when I first showed up, but within the span on 30 minutes there ended up being about 15 of us. I talked with everyone while I ate, but then got back on trail. By noon it turned into cloudy skies, no rain, and the sun kept poking in and out. The trail kept bringing me in and out of farm lands and the woods. I met a 71 year old thru hiker named A.I. And talked with him for a little bit. He’s actually hiking the trail with his brother Rambo, who is 72. By the afternoon, the trail brought me to one of my favorite parts of the trail thus far. It went through a wetland area, but there was a mile long stretch of boardwalk. It was a nice change and the boardwalk is pretty new. After the boardwalk, the trail passed a another road, and this time an ice cream place was just .1 miles away. I could see the sign from the trail and I thought why not get some ice cream. There was a group of people outside where I was eating and they were all fascinated with my trip and more so thru hiking in general. I still enjoy sharing my trip to other people and letting them know what thru hiking is all about. Road crossings typically mean that there’s going to be some sort of vertical ascent afterwards and after the ice cream I hiked up a mountain they call “stairway to heaven”. It was steep and rocky and I worked up a pretty good sweat. I ended up reaching the shelter around 7:30 and with more rain happening tonight, I wanted a spot in the shelter, but it was completely filled. I’ve seemed to have hiked into a “bubble” and although it’s nice meeting new people, sometimes it can change what plans I may have had. I ended up setting up my tent on a slight decline so that water can’t puddle up underneath. I ate with a bunch of new thru hikers I met, and unfortunately I can’t remember their names, but they were all great people! I’m excited for tomorrow because in just 7 miles I’ll be done with New Jersey and into New York!
Day 72 – Wawayanda Shelter – Campsite – 21.5 miles
It rained all night, but with the tree cover and downward slope my tent was damp and not completely soaked through. It was 7:15 by the time I was all packed up, and I hit the trail with excitement because I was officially going to be back in the Northeast. I first stopped at a State Park office and ate breakfast while I charged my phone up for a little bit. It wasn’t raining out, but it was cloudy and it seemed like the sun was trying to come out and it eventually would for the rest of the day. 7 miles in I saw the NJ/NY state line and took some pictures. The trail brought me along a ridge for the next five miles and a lot of it was climbing up and down boulders. I guess New York is known for its rock climbing. Some parts even had metal rungs in the rocks so you can climb up. 12 miles in the trail came to another road and .3 miles away was Bellvale Farms Creamery. They were extremely hiker friendly and had a charging station and water spigot we could use. There were a few hikers there and more would show up. I stayed there for about an hour, talking with other hikers, and getting two milkshakes, Coffee and Strawberry. All their ice cream was homemade and it was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. My goal was to go 26 miles today and when I got to the Creamery, Mouse King wanted to go to the same spot, so we decided to hike the long day together. Before we got back on trail, we stopped at a hot dog stand and each got two hot dogs, chips, and a drink. The terrain for the rest of the afternoon remained the same as the morning. A lot of rock climbs and even a pretty cool waterfall. All the pines remind me of hiking back at home and it feels good to be out here. By 7 we had made it about 21 miles and we both decided that if we found a good place to camp we should stop. Rain was in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow and we wanted to set up before the heavy stuff came. We found a good spot shortly after that and it came in good time because pretty soon after we got there it started drizzling. I set up my tent, ate a Mountain House for dinner, then got into my tent. Mouse King is a pretty funny kid, so he had me cracking up as we talked from our tents. It’s cool hiking with people once and a while and it’s so crazy that you can become friends so quickly with others out here. Hopefully it doesn’t rain too much and we don’t end up soaked in the morning. Good day today!